UMBC turns tables on Wagner, tying for second with 81-69 win


Since Jan. 26, UMBC had been on a roll, winning seven of eight Northeast Conference games before last night's test at RAC Arena.

The only blemish had been administered by Wagner, which had halted a Retrievers winning streak at six last Sunday with a convincing, 17-point victory on Staten Island.

With a share of second place in the conference at stake last night, the Retrievers responded positively by outlasting Wagner, 81-69, before a raucous crowd of 3,120.

The game was a spectator's delight, with UMBC (18-8, 14-5) charging out to leads of 7-0 and 19-6 before the Seahawks answered and pulled to within one by halftime.

Back and forth they went, with Wagner (18-8, 14-5) taking three slim leads and hanging in contention until the final three minutes, when the Retrievers gradually pulled away.

"We jumped on them early," said UMBC's Peter Mulligan, who tied for team scoring honors with 15 points. 'This was about us getting focused and ready for the tournament, being at Wagner. We wanted to get some confidence."

Hidden among the Retrievers' offensive numbers was a stellar defensive performance by Eugene Young, Will McClurkin and Andre Williams against one of the NEC's standouts, Wagner forward Jermaine Hall.

Hall finished with 24 points, but was forced to labor for many of them. "Eugene made him work for everything he got," said UMBC coach Tom Sullivan. "And a lot of time went off the clock before he got the ball."

"It took a while to get adjusted to the defense," conceded Hall, an all-NEC forward. 'They were sending an offside guy to help."

Williams scored on a follow shot to give the Retrievers a 67-62 lead before the biggest basket of the game, by Justin Wilson, who also contributed 15 UMBC points.

Following a Wagner turnover, Wilson hit a three-pointer off a scramble, then sheepishly said, "It was a questionable shot. I needed to bring it out and re-set, but I decided to shoot and fortunately it went."

The Seahawks were never closer than seven after that as Wilson, Kareem Washington and Rob Gogerty kept them safely at bay with free throws.

"It was a well-fought game," said Wagner coach Dereck Whittenburg, a member of North Carolina State's famed 1983 national championship team. "I think their 18 offensive rebounds started to add up on us."

Wagner lost its center, Chris Jackson, to personal fouls with 8:29 left in the game, depriving its offense of an inside option to Hall.

The NEC season will conclude tomorrow night, with Wagner going to last-place Mount St. Mary's and UMBC playing host to Sacred Heart.

If all goes according to form, the two schools will finish in a tie for second and a tiebreaker will determine the tournament seeding behind No. 1 Central Connecticut.

WAGNER-Wilkerson 3-6 1-2 7, Hall 9-12 6-8 24, Jackson 1-3 0-0 2, Dye 4-9 0-0 9, Pritchard 2-5 1-2 5, Underwood 1-1 0-0 2, Golden 0-0 0-0 0, Kabore 1-1 0-0 3, Allen 0-0 0-0 0, Wyatte 3-6 1-2 7, Klauder 0-0 0-0 0, Martin 0-0 0-0 0, Carroll 2-10 5-6 10. Totals 26-53 14-20 69. UMBC-Mulligan 6-12 2-3 15, Young 3-3 1-2 7, McClurkin 3-11 1-1 7, Washington 4-10 3-5 11, Gogerty 2-2 4-4 9, Wilson 5-7 2-4 15, Wallace 2-5 2-2 6, Yates 1-5 1-2 3, Snyder 0-0 0-0 0, Williams 2-7 4-6 8. Totals 28-62 20-29 81. Halftime-UMBC 34-33. 3-point goals-Wagner 3-10 (Wilkerson 0-2, Dye 1-4, Kabore 1-1, Wyatte 0-1, Carroll 1-2), UMBC 5-12 (Mulligan 1-2, Washington 0-3, Gogerty 1-1, Wilson 3-3, Wallace 0-2, Yates 0-1). Rebounds-Wagner 29 (Wyatte 8), UMBC 43 (McClurkin 10). Assists-Wagner 14 (Dye 6), UMBC 17 (Washington 6). Total fouls-Wagner 25, UMBC 24. Fouled out-Jackson, Wilson, McClurkin. Technical fouls-Kabore, McClurkin. A-3,120.

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